About this blog

My name is Bill Hirt and I'm a candidate to be a Representative from the 48th district in the Washington State legislature. My candidacy stems from concern the legislature is not properly overseeing the WSDOT and Sound Transit East Link light rail program. I believe East Link will be a disaster for the entire eastside. ST will spend 5-6 billion on a transportation project that will increase, not decrease cross-lake congestion, violates federal environmental laws, devastates a beautiful part of residential Bellevue, creates havoc in Bellevue's central business district, and does absolutely nothing to alleviate congestion on 1-90 and 405. The only winners with East Link are the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and their labor unions.

This blog is an attempt to get more public awareness of these concerns. Many of the articles are from 3 years of failed efforts to persuade the Bellevue City Council, King County Council, east side legislators, media, and other organizations to stop this debacle. I have no illusions about being elected. My hope is voters from throughout the east side will read of my candidacy and visit this Web site. If they don't find them persuasive I know at least I tried.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Transportation Funding Concerns

(I returned from 8 days rafting the Grand Canyon to "inspiration" from a Bellevue Reporter "letter".)

The problem with transportation funding in our area is not that “it tilts too much to transit".  The problem is it “tilts” (a better word would be “wastes”) too much towards extending light rail.  Light rail in Seattle should be limited to a “trunk” line that extends from the University to SeaTac (see 4/26/13  post).  The Central Link extensions to Federal Way and to Lynnwood will never attract sufficient riders to justify the costs for construction and the added equipment and operation associated with the longer routes.  

North end commuters, who would be affected, could be better served by far cheaper and faster express bus service from P&R lots into Seattle.   South end commuters might use direct bus routes into Seattle or to light rail connections at Tukwila.  Service that could be expedited by restricting 2nd and 4th Avenues to bus-only use during commute hours.  

The University Station should serve as an interface between light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) across SR520 (4/15/13 post).  Eastside residents could have express bus service from a P&R lot near where they live to UW or a fast, reliable light rail ride into downtown.  Seattleites could use the return routes for direct connections to near where they work on the east side.  A University T/C is the only way to attract the large numbers of riders needed to make light rail viable.

Sound Transit could and should have moved non-transit HOV traffic to 4th lanes on the I-90 Bridge outer roadways and initiated two-way BRT on the center roadway 15 years ago (8/08/12 post).  In this case the buses would have provided express connections between east side P&R lots and dedicated drop-off and pick-up points along “bus-only” 4th and 2nd Avenues. 

Truncating light rail in this manner would avoid the need to use $15 billion (2007 dollars) in constructing transportation projects that will only increase the subsidies needed to cover the higher operating costs.  Eliminating East Link will not only eliminate the devastation along the route, it will also stop the idiocy of spending billions on a cross-lake transportation project that actually increases congestion.

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